Cooking Asparagus

There are more ways than you think to prepare Asparagus

Just a few miles from our house is a farm where you can pick your own asparagus directly from the fields.The cost is about half of the cost in the local supermarket and the taste is exceptionally good when the asparagus is picked the same day that you cook it. Much sweeter than the supermarket stuff.

The classic method is to boil them gently for about 3 minutes in a pan. However the water absorbs too much flavour so steaming them is a better option and one we use most often. You don’t need to buy a fancy asparagus steamer, a metal or bamboo one is fine, so long as it is wide enough to allow you to place the spears in without bending them. There is something lovely about a plate of steamed asparagus, all the same length, neatly arranged on a plate with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce.

However, if you want a bit more depth to the flavour then try cooking the spears on a griddle. The idea is to char bits of the brocolli, getting those black marks on some parts of the spear but not others. We usually serve them with homemade sourdough rolls and a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon and Parmesan cheese. However recently we found a local deli selling lemon oil which is a lovely alternative.

Roasting asparagus in the oven is so simple. Simply drop the spears in a shallow oven dish, dot them with some butter and roast for about 10 minutes at 200f. Sprinkle a little minced garlic on before roasting for added wow.

Now here is the biggest secret of the lot. The one thing that blows everyone away who ever tries it (am I exaggerating? actually, I don’t think I am). Which ever way you prepare your asparagus spears, serve them by drizzling a litle balsamic vinegar on them. Now I don’t mean thin runny two quid a bottle stuff but the thick sticky ‘balsamico di modena’ that has been aged for many years. It is a sweet sticky substance that has the texture of runny honey. It is expensive, but you don’t need much and it keeps forever, so try it and I am certain you will be amazed.

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